EU plans phased oil ban on Russia, also targeting more banks

EU plans phased oil ban on Russia, also targeting more banks

The European Union’s chief executive on Wednesday (May 4) proposed a phased oil embargo on Russia over its war in Ukraine, as well as sanctioning Russia’s top bank and banning Russian broadcasters from European airwaves, in a bid to deepen Moscow’s isolation.

The plan, if agreed by EU governments, would mark a watershed for the world’s largest trading bloc, which is dependent on Russian energy and must find alternative supplies.

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by land, sea and air on Feb. 24, the renewed Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine and the horrific images of slaughter in Ukrainian towns have overcome reluctance to deliver the toughest sanctions so far.

The Commission’s measures include phasing out supplies of Russian crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of 2022, President Ursula von der Leyen said. She pledged to minimize the impact on European economies.

The price of Brent crude rose 2% to $107,11 at around 0900 CET, up 37.5% since the start of year.

As well as oil, the latest round of sanctions will hit Sberbank, Russia’s top lender, as well as three other banks, adding it to several banks that have already been excluded from the SWIFT messaging system.

Von der Leyen said more high-ranking Russian military officials would face EU asset freezes and travel bans, without giving names.

The proposals by the Commission now need to go to the 27 member states for approval. Diplomats said there was likely to be a longer period granted to Hungary and Slovakia to stop oil imports as they are so heavily dependent on Russian energy.

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